Things I’m not allowed to say, things I shouldn’t say

I’m not supposed to discuss the policies and procedures of my office, so I’m not going to. So, for example, I’m not going to tell you which major, northeastern Florida City I was working in today. I’m not going to tell you the name of the person from this city that I spoke to; nor am I going to tell you what he does or the professional association that he’s required to belong to as a condition of practicing his trade. What I am going to tell you is that this is the first professional that I’ve witnessed on the job with a pinch of chaw between his cheek and gum. Nope, I wasn’t in Pinellas any more friends.

While technically I live in the south, I am a New England liberal by birth, and de facto mid-westerner by transplant. There are, after all, more mid-westerners in central Florida than in the entire state of Ohio (in my view, the quintessential mid-western state). This is why, despite living south of the Mason-Dixon line, I don’t have the pleasure of frequenting the “southern drawl.” Methinks this is why I’ve never seen a professional with a worn, circular pattern in the back pocket of his business suit; who hears the word “Copenhagen” and doesn’t first think of the capitol of Denmark; and to whom “Red Man” is first something you spit out, and second someone you spit, oh all right, southerners aren’t quite that bad (anymore).

Actually, he was really a nice guy. I shouldn’t be saying such unkind things. Maybe that’s why I don’t make friends easily.

CRAP! I already told you where I went, didn’t I? Ah well. All of that worrying yesterday about not saying much, well that was probably better than today. It’s bad enough that I was harboring all those elitist thoughts about my hosts, when I did open my mouth I had the wrong thing to say. It turns out that my travel mates wanted to know my opinion about what I saw, and I told them, I thought it was the picture of inefficiency (well, not in so many words). I told them I didn’t think anything we had learned would help our situation in Pinellas. Then I told them we had tried several times to speed up the process back home, with a long and illustrious history of failure. Yep, in the span of four sentences I trashed the whole initiative, I rained on the parade, and I made sure that no one would listen to anything else I had to say for the remainder of the trip.

But I thought I was well justified. REALLY I did. You see, when one person or persons have the final say over procedure and they don’t want to change, you’re not going to get a whole lot done, end of story. And that is our problem, we have to work with a third party who has the final say, and they’re not beholden to our desires for one minute (in fact, it’s the very nature of our relationship). But of course, the lessons we’ve learned in the past don’t apply to my travel mates. No sir, they’ve got to learn their lessons themselves. Oh, if only I could tell you the specifics. It would all be so clear. You could really feel my pain. I’ll bet you could just kick yourself.

And so ends my involvement with this project. I didn’t have much to say, but when I did it sure took the life out of the party. Is it any wonder I don’t get invited very often?

And then I got home this evening, just in time for dinner. Home is where my heart is. It was so good to see my kids. It was so good to hold my wife. It was so good to be with someone who laughs at what I have to say. It was so good to be understood, to not have to explain myself, and explain some more, and explain yet again. Yes, it was cool to be asked to go, and it was fun to go (all things considered), but it was also good to be back home.